January 30, 2011 - 7:54pm | by Ian W. Scott
The document entitled the Assumption of Moses or the Testament of Moses by modern editors is extant in one poorly preserved sixth-century Latin palimpsest discovered by A. M. Ceriani in the Ambrosian Library of Milan, and published in 1861. It is estimated that between one-third and one-half of the original work has been lost. The titles Assumption of Moses and Testament of Moses are known from ancient lists of apocryphal books. Ceriani originally identified the manuscript as a copy of the Assumption of Moses on the basis of a Greek quotation attributed to that work by Gelasius Cyzicenus which corresponds to the Latin text of 1.14. Others, observing that the Latin manuscript takes the form of a testament and does not mention Moses’ assumption, suggest instead that the manuscript is a copy of the Testament of Moses. Due to the fragmentary nature of the evidence, neither identification can be regarded as certain.
Provenance and Social Setting:
There is no doubt that the Latin text was translated from Greek; according to the current scholarly consensus, the Greek version was itself a translation from a Semitic (most likely Hebrew) original.Most scholars conclude that the document was completed in the first half of the first century C.E. because the death of Herod the Great is mentioned (6.8-9), but no reference is made to the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. However, since chapter 8 seems to refer to the persecution under Antiochus IV, the reference to Herod in chapter 6 is often regarded as a later modification of a text that was originally composed around the time of the Maccabean revolt (ca. 167 B.C.E.).
Text Status and Contents:
The text presented here adds the standard chapter and verse references, but in all other respects is identical to A. M. Ceriani’s 1861 edition of the Assumption of Moses. Because the Latin text is fragmentary, occasionally illegible, and in some places, obviously corrupt, printed editions of the Assumption of Moses necessarily involve varying degrees of conjecture and emendation. Readers who wish to conduct detailed study of the Latin text of the Assumption of Moses should also consult J. Tromp’s recent critical edition.
- A.-M. Denis, Concordance latine, 552-65.
- ** Reprints the text of Tromp's edition.
- J. Tromp, The Assumption of Moses: A Critical Edition with Commentary (SVTP 10; Leiden: Brill, 1993).
- ** Now the standard critical edition. Based primarily on A. M. Ceriani’s 1861 edition, it incorporates readings and conjectures proposed by others, as well as new readings based on an examination of photographs of the manuscript.
- C. Clemen, Die Himmelfahrt des Mose (KTTVÜ 10; Bonn: Marcus & Weber, 1904).
- ** One of the primary editions employed by Tromp.
- R.H. Charles, The Assumption of Moses, Translated from the Latin Sixth Century MS., the Unemended Text of Which Is Published Herewith, Together with the Text in Its Restored and Critically Emended Form (London: A. & C. Black, 1897).
- A. Hilgenfeld, “Mosis Assumptionis quae supersunt nunc primum edita et illustrata,” in Clementis Romani Epistulae, vol 1 of Novum Testamentum extra canonem receptum (Leipzig: T. O. Weigel, 1866), 93-115.
- A.M. Ceriani, “Fragmenta Assumptionis Mosis,” in Fragmenta Latina Evangelii: S. Lucae, Parvae Genesis et Assumptionis Mosis, Baruch, Threni et Epistolae Jeremiae Versionis Syriacae Pauli Telensis (Monumenta sacra et profana 1; Milano: Typis et impensis Bibliothecae Ambrosianae, 1861), 55-64.
- ** The primary basis for Tromp's critical edition.
For further bibliography, see DiTommaso, Bibliography, 731-33 or click here to search for material on the Assumption of Moses on the BiBIL database.
|. . .||Ellipses were used by Ceriani to indicate missing or illegible text. Each period stands for approximately one letter.|
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